Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Rabbit Holes With Randy - Adding Life Stories to FamilySearch Family Tree

 I publish a 52 Ancestors blog post every week on Friday - they are genealogical sketches of one of my ancestors.  I'm in my 9th year of doing this (I've missed two weeks, I think), and have accumulated over 420 of them.  I started with my great-grandparents, and went down my ahnentafel list and am now working in my 7th great-grandparents.  I try to include the known information I have on birth, baptism, marriages, death, burial, military service, census records, migration records, occupations, residences, offices held, land transactions, probate records, obituary or death notices, cemetery inscription, published information, etc.  I try to support my assertions and conclusions with source citations. Many of the posts are several pages long, and some are fairly short.  But they are all my ancestors, and these blog posts are the "first draft" of the life stories of my ancestors.  I use an Individual Report in RootsMagic for my format, including names, dates, places, notes and sources, which I can copy and paste, and then edit, into Blogger.  Sometimes I work on the sketch for a full day (usually having to do more research) or sometimes just one or two hours, including writing the blog post.  

Every December, I update my list of 52 Ancestor Biographies on my Genea-Musings website with the additions added during the calendar year.  

1)  Why do I write them?  Because they document the lives of my ancestors and I hope that my relatives (brothers, cousins, children, grandchildren, etc.) read them and gain a better understanding of our common ancestors.  Just putting them on the internet in a blog post enables the search engines to crawl them.  If another researcher, new or old, searches for a name on Google or Bing or another search engine, they will probably find what I have written.  A person searching for a name on Ancestry, MyHeritage, Findmypast, AmericanAncestors, WikiTree, Geni, or FamilySearch will probably find entries in my family trees on those sites, but they might not find the life story I've written (for example, Ancestry hides the Notes of a person in family trees).  

2)  Now what can I do with them?  This is my life's work, my legacy.  I don't know how long I can keep doing research and writing blog posts - life is unpredictable.  I don't know how long Blogger will be around, especially if I die and my descendants don't care that much to salvage what is on Blogger.  

3)  I think I have options, not choices:

a)  The plan twenty years ago was a series of books - for example, "Ancestors of Randall J. Seaver; Volumes 1 to 17" (one book for the last three generations, then 16 books, one for ancestors of each 2nd great-grandparent).  I might go back 8 to 10 generations in each book, which means hundreds of pages.  This is a daunting task!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Who would read them in a book form?  Without life stories, they would be genealogical sketches of names, dates, events, places, and source citations in a standard, repetitive format.  Bor----ing as my granddaughter would say.  I could use a report writer in genealogy software to create the books based on what I have in RootsMagic, and perhaps include photographs and maps and record images.  The software could create an index, and save it all as a PDF, which I could send to a book publisher to print book copies.  Which is the right software?  But I know I'm not "done" - are my life stories consistent and complete (I know they are not!  They are a first draft written on a timeline)?  I want to do a great job with them and have them stand the test of time.  

I could at least put these "books" in digital format on a website, and I have some "books" on Scribd ( that are now 10 years old and need to be updated.  Those reports/books can be found by search engines.  

b)  I could create a "Story" on Ancestry from each of my 52 Ancestors post and attach those Stories to my Ancestry profiles.  Other researchers have found my 52 Ancestors posts and have made some of them a "Story" (some with attribution, some without).  As long as I have a public Ancestry Member Tree on Ancestry with the "Story" attached, then they should live on after my demise at least until Ancestry's demise.  But the Ancestry Member Tree is behind the paywall for researchers who don't have a subscription.

c)  The FamilySearch Family Tree has a Life Stories section for biographies and research notes for each historical person profile.  They also have a Memories section for photographs, audio, stories, and documents.  I have been adding my 52 Ancestors blog posts to Life Stories on Family Tree for several years now.  There is a 10,000 character limitation, but you can also add Fact Notes to profiles.  Being the FamilySearch Family Tree, there is no guarantee that they won't be eliminated or modified as time goes on.  I really like the FamilySearch Family Tree, and it is free to access and use.  It should (I hope) last a very long time.

d)  If I have my 52 Ancestors posts in a PDF file, I could save them all to my FOREVER account so that my children  and grandchildren could access them.  But I need to edit the profiles to include photographs and record documents in a word processor in order to create the PDF.

4)  The immediate problem I have right now is TIME.  I'm not done with my family history research, I'm age 78 and feeling mortal with several health problems at this point in time.  I know I won't finish what I've started - I can only do the best I can for as long as I can and hope that it is "good enough."  I have little hope that one of my descendants will pick it all up and do something good with it - they all have long and complicated lives to lead and, hopefully, with more generations of descendants.  

5)  The near future may be more rabbit holes - the Ancestry Member Tree "Stories" and the PDF biographies on FOREVER - it's worth the effort.  I may revise the ancestor and descendants reports I have on Scribd if I have time and energy.

6)  So that's a long-winded explanation of why I went down the rabbit hole this past week to add about 30 Life Stories, based on my recent 52 Ancestors posts, to FamilySearch Family Tree.  It didn't take too long to copy and paste the Note and Sources portions of the 52 Ancestors posts to the profiles on FamilySearch Family Tree.  I did have to remove the detailed Probate Notes (will, inventory, account, etc.) on some profiles but tried to add them to the FSFT profiles as a Probate Note in the "Collaborate" section of the profile.  Over the past five years, I've been adding Life Stories to the FamilySearch Family Tree profiles.

7)  Have you thought about how you will save your genealogy and family history research?  Tell me what your thoughts and plans are in Comments below!

It's time for this genealogy bunny to get some energy from the carrots in the refrigerator and go sweep his front walkway.


Copyright (c) 2022, Randall J. Seaver

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1 comment:

Marian B. Wood said...

Randy, why do you prefer posting the bios as "life stories" on Family Search (where they can be changed by others) rather than posting the bios as "memories" (where they remain as you posted them)? I've been using memories because I want the bios to remain as I wrote them. Even if new "facts" come to light in the form of newly-available documentation, the bios are more than facts and anyone who looks at that ancestor's profile can review the facts as well as reading the "memory" I posted, IMHO. Your thoughts? Thanks.